Studies show pets don't like secondhand smoke

Studies show the negative effects of secondhand smoke don't just influence humans.

A study by the College of Veterinary Medicine at Colorado State University noted a higher risk for lung and nasal cancer in dogs when subjected to secondhand smoke. The Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University found a strong link between secondhand smoke and cancer in cats, and higher risk for pets who are exposed to secondhand smoke for five years or more. Dr. Robert Ballinger of Palo Duro Animal Hospital agrees with these findings.

"Stronger relationships with some nasal cancers in dogs- certainly a stronger correlation there," he stated, "and a pretty high correlation with decreased lung function with debris in the lungs, with coughing, with COPD or Chronic Disruptive Pulmonary Disease- type disorders. With cats, asthma-type disorders..."

Dr. Ballinger recommended smokers drop the habit for both their own well-being and that of their pets.

"Smoke really is a kind of a particulate," he added. "And, so, it does tend to settle. So dogs, typically, being closer to the floor, they will commonly get higher levels than a person will."

If owners choose not to quit smoking, stepping outside and away from the animals is a precaution they can take to keep their animals from inhaling the cigarette smoke.

"Keep the pets away from it," Dr. Ballinger pointed out. "I know is come cases- we had a Chihuahua several years ago that had a lot of lung disease and we hospitalized him for, as I recall, three weeks and it cleared up when he was here in a smoke-free environment."

Some pet owners have used their fuzzy friends as motivation to drop the habit- an idea Dr. Ballinger said is worth trying.

"I've had people that would quit for their pets that wouldn't for themselves, so that's not entirely unrealistic."

Studies show smoking is a nasty habit- the negative side effects might be more harmful than some people are willing to gamble for. Dr. Ballinger insists smokers keep that in mind and remember their pets want to be healthy, too.